For cruise sellers, it’s a fiercely competitive market out there. Although mainstream cruise lines continue to rely primarily on agent sales, Cruise Week continues to hear frequent anecdotes about aggressive direct contact from cruise lines for post-cruise re-bookings.
Smaller agencies are facing stiff competition from national sellers, especially on big-ticket items like world cruises.
Some say a big part of the problem comes down to client loyalty, or more accurately the lack thereof. “The consumer is a gamer today,” said one agent. “They game the system.” That view ties in with cruise line assertions that more customers are using a different agency when booking a return cruise with the same line.
Whatever your selling model, the competition is intense. Agents say being proactive in the sales process is the best way to fight it.
In many cases national sellers can claim a price advantage over direct bookings. Local agencies can warn clients that they will be contacted by the cruise line to book again soon after their return, but that their services come with more choices.
Whatever the selling model, agents must always be acutely aware of the competition, and ready to point out the benefits of booking through them versus ‘the other guy.’